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Source: ‘Rogue’ Chinese Virologist Joins Twitter, Publishes “Smoking Gun” Evidence COVID-19 Created in Lab, Zero Hedge (Sept 15, 2020).


Today’s blog rings in the new year in two parts. With the U.S. elections in the rearview mirror, the mainstream press has been more willing to question China’s role in Covid-19’s origins. Summarized below are the more interesting recent articles.


There’s growing momentum to at least consider the possibility that Covid-19 escaped from the Wuhan Institute of Virology (“WIV”), the only Biosafety Level-4 laboratory in all of China, the leading bat coronavirus research facility in the world and the recipient of two U.S. government (National Institutes of Health) $3.7 million dollar grants to undertake gain-of-function research on bat coronaviruses.


However, China’s (and its international apologists such as the WHO) maintain an alternative reality, namely that Covid-19 originated in bat colonies in Yunnan caves and somehow found its way over eleven hundred miles (1800 kilometers) to Wuhan where it jumped from bats to humans. Despite that huge distance and high transmissibility, no one on the route to Hubei province contracted Covid, either. Note that China’s government no longer claims that the virus started at the infamous Huanan Seafood Market after thirteen of the original forty-one cases in Wuhan had no contact with that place.


The punchlines? The WHO’s announced inquiry into Covid-19’s beginnings will not include interviews with anyone at the Wuhan Institute of Virology. The WHO study director was chosen because he doesn’t believe in the lab escape hypothesis (see below). How’s that for baked-in bias? Meanwhile, China will obstruct the investigations by prohibiting independent research in-country, starting with in-person interviews with scientists, lab workers and Covid victims.


Part two of the first True Lies offering for 2021 makes for lighter reading. Book blogger extraordinaire Rekha Rao stumbled on Dark Cure: A Covid Thriller and enjoyed it sufficiently to write a review. (See Rekha Rao Goodreads review Dark Cure) . Rekha’s The Book Decoder blog yesterday featured an interview that covered my writing methods, inspirations, and the genesis of Dark Cure: A Covid Thriller. (See The Book Decoder Bradley West interview 2020 Jan or the end of this blog for the reprint).


Anyone who hasn’t yet purchased Dark Cure can do so on Amazon either via Kindle (US$3) or paperback (US$14). (See Dark Cure Amazon Kindle U.S.) If you’ve already read Dark Cure, please leave a review on Amazon and Goodreads (Goodreads Dark Cure).


2021’s less than a week old and it’s on fire with political, vaccination and pandemic controversies. I’m looking forward to things settling down later in the year. With nothing much else to do, I’m hard at work on Hard Road, the sequel to Dark Cure. I sure hope that this time around I do a less-good job of predicting the future.



Bradley West, Singapore, Jan 6, 2021




Franken-Covid Part IV: The Early 2021 Update


In the build-up to the 2020 election, the question of how Covid-19 went from non-existent-to-global-pandemic didn’t receive the independent scrutiny it deserved for political reasons. The election is over, and the question remains unanswered. There are two sets of reasons why it’s important that international investigators discover the truth. For everyone’s health on the planet, we need to know whether an animal virus can jump to humans while gaining in potency and contagiousness or whether Covid-19 resulted from artificial manipulation and a lab escape. The difference has huge implications for public health policy and pandemic prevention planning.


The secondary issue is that U.S. multinationals keen to invest in and sell to China have exerted undue influence on U.S. policy for thirty-plus years (irrespective of which party was in the White House). The more the world shines a bright light on China’s abysmal human rights practices, suppression of the truth and authoritarian rule, the more willing we will be to recalibrate the tradeoffs inherent in shipping technology, jobs and capital to a rival state that might prove the death of us all.


Of late, the most interesting new Covid-19 information that’s come to my attention includes the following:


Hong Kong virologist publishes scientific article showing how Covid-19 was created in the lab as part of a gain-of-function experiment


Dr. Yan Li-Meng, former Hong Kong University academic. Source:, September 2020


In September last year, the website ZeroHedge summarized a scholarly paper authored by a team led by Dr. Yan Li-Meng, a former academic at Hong Kong University. Dr. Yan’s background includes authorship of thirteen prior publications cited over five-hundred-fifty times by peers: She’s not a crackpot. Her thesis echoes that of Dr. Bret Weinstein (see Franken-Covid blog c/o A Viper’s Nest), positing two natural bat viruses (ZC45 and ZCC21) that could have served as the backbone for a gain-of-function enhancement.


“Gain-of-function” (“GOF”) experiments involve scientists manipulating viruses to amplify certain traits. Properly conducted, these studies allow scientists to play “What if?” and, in theory, better prepare us to handle new diseases. Done ineptly, these modified viruses might escape and lead to catastrophic disease outbreaks.


The key point of both Yan’s and Weinstein’s conjectures is that the SARS-CoV-2 receptor spike protein doesn’t naturally occur in bat coronaviruses: it had to be grafted onto an existing, distinct coronavirus. This altered receptor spike protein is what makes Covid-19 so contagious.


To critics who suggest that natural mutations led to this never-before-seen receptor spike protein configuration, Yan notes that there are only two possible ways this could have occurred:


An ancient recombination event followed by convergent evolution: Any mutations taking place long ago would have been widely dispersed, meaning that there would have been differences observed throughout the genome. This is not the case with SARS-CoV-2.


A natural recombination event that occurred recently: The preconditions to a recent mutation are exacting, including the necessity for two distinct viruses to share significant aspects of their genomes, that they co-infect the same animal in the same cells, that this recombinant (new) virus survives the host’s immune system response and the recombinant virus becomes stable and transmissible. The problem here is that there’s nothing in the bat coronavirus catalog that resembles the novel receptor spike protein. Humans can’t be infected by the ZC45/ZXC21 baseline bat coronaviruses which rules people out as the animal reservoir for Covid-19. There are no instances of anything like SARS-CoV-2 ever circulating in humans before Covid-19. (Pangolins are briefly considered and then rejected as possible intermediate hosts.)


Source: citing Dr. Lan’s original paper


On the contrary, one of the most intriguing aspects of Covid-19 is its extreme well-adaptedness to human infections from the very outset of its emergence. The smoking gun comes when Dr. Yan reports the Wuhan Institute of Virology coronavirus research leader, Dr. Shi Zheng Li (“the bat woman” of media coverage), swapped the necessary components that would be needed to create SARS-CoV-2 as far back as 2008. Dr. Shi’s group also included Dr. Li Fang and he, too, could manipulate viruses in the same manner.


The author then describes the WIV scientists’ (including Drs. Shi and Li) attempts to cover their tracks. She concludes that the base virus was “weaponized and enhanced” to create SARS-CoV-2. Wuhan researchers worked diligently to boost the “enhancement of the infectivity and pathogenicity of the laboratory-made coronavirus.”


Despite its at-times technical nature, this blockbuster article is worth reading and is certainly thought-provoking. Is this actually what happened? I don’t know, but there’s a strong enough case present for at least independent international health experts to take a lab escape seriously.


U.S. Funding for Gain-of-Function Research and China’s Response


The next article comes from the U.K.’s Daily Mail (no bastion of journalistic excellence) and dates from April 2020. The author(s) cite the public record: the U.S. taxpayer contributed US$3.7 million to the WIV to undertake gain-of-function experiments on mammals (mostly bats) captured in Yunnan. The fruits of this research first appeared in November 2017 in an article produced by Wuhan Institute of Virology staff entitled Discovery of a Rich Gene Pool of Bat SARS-related Coronaviruses Provides New Insights into the Origin of SARS Coronavirus.


China’s reply was interesting. According to the same Daily Mail article, China Foreign Minister Wang Yi called U.K. foreign secretary Dominic Raab and said, “Alarmingly, some people are attempting to politicise the epidemic, label the virus and stigmatise China . . . .” You can imagine that China’s global P.R. efforts extended to many more phone calls to many more government officials.


Danger Signs Pointing to a Possible Lab Leak Date from at least 2014


Why would the N.I.H. be funding bat virus research in China? Because concerns over the dangers of gain-of-function research led the U.S. government in October 2014 to ban funding new research that makes certain viruses more deadly or transmissible. The White House Office of Science and Technology Policy asked researchers examining gain-of-function experiments on influenza, SARS and MERS to stop their work until a risk assessment was completed. (Note: the Trump administration cut the OSTP unit staff strength from 135 to 45 pre-Covid-19.) Some of the G.O.F. projects deemed too dangerous to undertake domestically ended up being U.S. funded anyway, just relocated offshore and, in certain cases, at the WIV. Barely a year after this announcement, on Nov 12, 2015, the respected journal Nature published an article entitled Engineered Bat Virus Stirs Debate over Risky Research. The opening paragraph is a humdinger:


An experiment that created a hybrid version of a bat coronavirus—one related to the virus that causes SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome)—has triggered renewed debate over whether engineering lab variants of viruses with possible pandemic potential is worth the risks.”


Farther down on page one, Simon Wain-Hobson, a virologist at the Pasteur Institute in Paris,  points out that the researchers have created a novel virus that “grows remarkably well” in human cells. “If the virus escaped, nobody could predict the trajectory,” he said.


China’s Insincerity Knows No Limits: End of 2020


Jumping ahead five years, on Dec 22, 2020, published a report with perhaps the most misleading title of all-time: Covid: Wuhan Scientist would “Welcome” Visit Probing Lab Leak Theory. Anyone not wanting to read all fifteen pages can make do with my summary: The “Wuhan scientist” is no other than the infamous Dr. Shi Zheng Li, a.k.a. “bat woman.” In her personal capacity, Dr. Shi said that she’d welcome “any kind of visit” to the WIV to rule out the lab leak hypothesis. However, after her statement, the WIV press office called the B.B.C. to say that Dr. Shi’s comments had not been authorized. No matter: Dr. Shi made her statement only after the WHO investigative team pronounced that the terms of reference for their inquiry make no mention of the lab leak theory. Further undermining international confidence, the WIV took down their online public viruses database, claiming that the WIV’s emails had been hacked, so they’d taken this step as a precautionary measure.


Source: Dr. Peter Daszak, President, EcoHealth Alliance. Source:

The WHO team’s chairman Dr. Peter Daszak had previously called the lab leak hypothesis a “conspiracy theory” and “pure baloney.” When asked if the WHO team would seek access to the WIV, Dr. Daszak, a British zoologist, said, “That’s not my job to do that.” To further demonstrate the foolishness of the WHO study as presently structured, one of their focal points will be the Huanan Seafood Market even though (a) independent evidence has ruled it out as the initial source of Wuhan’s infections; (b) no bats were sold there; and (c) China’s authorities shuttered and disinfected the market in early January, so there’s no physical evidence left to study.


John Sudworth, author of the article, further notes that many well-documented cases of viruses are escaping supposedly secure laboratories. In 2004 alone, the SARS virus leaked twice from the Beijing Institute of Virology.


Elsewhere, Sudworth details how his B.B.C. film crew was tailed and obstructed in their efforts to access the abandoned Yunnan copper mine where Covid-19’s alleged progenitor emerged in 2012. Again, China’s playbook is simple: stifle free information flows—even at the cost of lives—and lie to support the party line and its international P.R. profile.


It’s Still not too Late to Undertake a Proper Investigation, but only China can Make that Happen


Am I the only one who thinks that there’s sufficient circumstantial evidence to warrant a harder look at the WIV in particular and China’s overall handling of Covid-19 in general? No, that’s not the case. Back in May 2020, over one hundred countries signed an Australia-led petition for an independent inquiry into Covid’s origins. China agreed to an investigation “when the pandemic was over” and has dragged its feet ever since. That’s to be expected.


On the Western side of the equation, billions of dollars in investment and trade opportunities hang in the balance. China is a vital customer for Australia’s commodity and raw material exports, and of late has been obstructing trade in a signal of its displeasure with Canberra. Joseph Biden’s election campaign received heavy donations from Silicon Valley, multinationals and financial services firms all eager to increase their investment and sales in China once Trump is out of office. The money people in these and other countries may be more interested in their opportunities to profit from doing China business than in their host countries pressing hard to find out how best to prevent the next pandemic.


All may not be lost as the international press’ formerly silent bastions are speaking up after the long silence pre-election with three examples being The New York Times (see Nov 2, 2020, In Hunt for Virus Source, W.H.O. Let China Take Charge), the B.B.C. article cited above and The Washington Post (see Jan 4, 2021, We Can’t Discover the Pandemic’s Origins if China’s Thought Police Keep Watching Scientists).


Voters, let your politicians know that you don’t want a ruinous 2020 to repeat itself. Prevention has to start from understanding what happened before, during and after the Covid-19 outbreak in Wuhan. A unified front of China’s main trading partners might successfully lobby for a (more) independent investigation.


STOP PRESS (I) A True Lies reader emailed the link to a just-published article in New York Magazine called The Lab Leak Hypothesis. I’ve not had time to read the article, but have included it in the bibliography below. The reader’s comment was “Brad, validation of a lot of what you’ve written,” so we have a pretty good idea of what’s in there. I will read it with gusto once this blog is up on the web.


STOP PRESS (II) Just as I was proofreading this blog entry, up popped an article on entitled WHO Team Blocked from Entering China to Study Origins of Coronavirus. In a “rare rebuke to the UN agency” (i.e., the WHO), on January 5 China denied entry to two WHO scientists because they lacked the necessary permissions. China’s Foreign Ministry had said just the day before that the country would welcome the WHO team. Clearly, that wasn’t the case. Foreign Minister Wang said, “More and more research suggests that the pandemic was likely to have been caused by separate outbreaks in multiple places in the world.” Bolstering that brazen lie, on January 4 China’s social media began carrying a story that claimed that imported auto parts packaging carried Covid-19. (This is after previous claims that the virus entered the country in frozen seafood.)


How can the West do business with a country responsible for trillions of dollars in cost, eighty-seven million cases and one-point-nine million deaths worldwide without receiving satisfactory explanations as to how it happened and the steps taken to prevent something like it from ever happening again?


Readers wanting a deeper look at the Covid-19 backstory can access three recent True Lies articles via the links below or


Covid-19’s Origins Almost Time for the Truth (October 2020)

A more in-depth investigation appears as Chapter 1 in A Viper’s Nest of Conspiracies 2.0 titled Franken-Covid | Creating the Monster that became China’s Coronavirus (October 2020). To receive your free Viper’s Nest, join the Bradley West Readers Group by typing in your email address at Bradley West Readers Group Sign-Up.


On Nov 3, I issued Covid-19 Post-Election | Holding China to Account. See Covid 19 Holding China to Account Post-Election


Bradley West Interview on The Book Decoder


Getting Goofy on the New Year’s family video call. (Source: Bradley West)


Rekha Rao, proprietor of The Book Decoder website (, conducted an interview with me that appeared on Jan 4 in her blog. (See


With Rekha’s kind permission, below I’ve reprinted her article (minus the obligatory author headshot photo, replaced by the socially distanced West family on a holiday call).


  1. Hello Bradley and welcome to my blog, The Book Decoder. Please tell me and my readers about yourself.

I’m an American who did half of university in the U.S. and half in the U.K. After graduating with an M.B.A. in 1983, I worked in London only briefly before being posted to Singapore. That four-month assignment is now in its thirty-seventh year. Along the way, I married a local lady and became a Singapore PR. I had a conventional business career for over thirty years, migrating from consulting to stockbroking to outsourcing and then back into capital markets. My jobs involved plenty of travel which provided a base later when I began to write. I have lived most of the time in Singapore, while spending eight years in Hong Kong during the go-go 1990s, plus stretches in Colombo and Bangalore.


In early 2014, I began the True Lies blog on with MH370 one of the first focal points. It took two years to research, write, re-write and edit my first novel, Sea of Lies, which takes MH370 as its largest point of interest. It’s a real kitchen-sinker with seven parallel plot threads at the peak and thirty characters to keep track of. For a short while in August 2016, Sea of Lies was an Amazon #1 in several categories . . . each of them free (!). Following on from the MH370 saga, came Pack of Lies (2017) and End of Lies (2018).


I took 2019 off from espionage conspiracy fiction and toward the end became involved with other Singapore expatriates’ efforts to better understand the global climate crisis. The result was a detailed presentation published on I still work with this group part-time. We feel we’ve stripped away much of the misunderstanding surrounding what’s become a highly politicized topic. Now that we understand the problems and the potential solutions, deciding what to do next is our next challenge.


  1. The first in a new thriller series, Dark Cure released recently. Can you tell us more about it?

Dark Cure is a mix of several thriller genres. At the core, it’s a double kidnapping of a baby and then his mother, with family members pursuing the kidnappers. The next layer is a family drama as the patriarch and his wife have a strained marriage, and their two adult daughters (and their partners) also feature complex relationships. Meanwhile, Covid-19 has mutated into Covid-20 that kills infected people in three days. This in turn means that law and order collapse as people lacking food, fuel and medicine either hoard these items, steal them or perish. A kidnapping story is stressful at the best of times, but against the backdrop of society disintegrating, everything has to happen in a hurry. The entire book takes place in seven days in July this year.



3. What was the inspiration behind writing a Covid thriller?

The True Lies blog explores mysteries, coverups and conspiracies in Asia, and when Covid-19 broke in January, this became a topic begging for a closer look. However, there was so little factual information around that it was impossible to write even a novel about the origins that would be semi-plausible. (I wrote the three blog posts on Covid’s beginnings only in October once the dust had begun to settle.)


When Covid-19 struck hard in early 2020, the government told Singapore residents to stay home. That sent me back to my writing desk. With an origin story off the table, I decided to create something fanciful, an Ebola-meets-the-Black Plague variant, and turn it loose on the U.S. The best way to raise the stakes is to involve a kidnapped baby, and the story took off from there.


  1. What was the most challenging part of writing Dark Cure?

The hardest part was in shifting themes and audiences. The Countless Lies trilogy appeals mostly to men who are action junkies or readers who like seeing fictional takes on current conspiracies or mysteries: MH370, MH17, Osama bin Laden’s lost years, the 2016 U.S. election, etc. Dark Cure is the first book in a trilogy that takes an extended family as its focus and almost eliminates the story’s conspiracy element while remaining fast-paced. My wife Lai Fan is a big fan of these books, and she coached me through the early stages when I wasn’t confident the story or characters would find a readership. She turned out to be right and I am fortunate to have had her there to critique each draft chapter. The result is fewer plotlines, more focus on interpersonal issues, and a broader array of female characters. I’m pleased with the results, and am psyched that there are two more books in the series.


I wrote Dark Cure between May and July when Covid was in the news every day. I figured that the pandemic would be over by late summer, and the book would be read as a “We were lucky that it didn’t turn out to be anything as bad as all this” when it came out at year-end. It’s December and the disease is worse than ever globally. Meanwhile, here comes a book that asks stressed-out people to read about a world that’s an alternative reality not too far off what they experience already. That’s a tough way to relax, but I’m gratified to date that the majority of readers focus on the “What ifs?”, family drama and action scenes rather than say, “Why would I relax with a book that’s about a disease that’s all over the papers every day?”


One element that helped was that Dark Cure isn’t a scientists-in-the-laboratory-racing-against-the-clock-to-find-the-cure story. There’s some of that in the book, but it’s well in the background. Dark Cure is much more a good guys versus bad guys story, closer to a traditional western than a full-fledged pandemic medical thriller, with a looming dystopian overlay.


  1. What are you currently working on?

Today is the first day in weeks that I’m not working on Dark Cure launch issues. I’m splitting my time between writing a short story giveaway for Countless Lies fans called Bob Nolan’s Bastille Day Party and outlining the next book, Dark Cure. I aim to finish Dark Cure by end March, but travel restrictions and other imponderables will determine how much work I’ll get done.


  1. What does a day in Bradley West’s life look like?

Like most writers, I need the discipline of a routine to ensure I put the hours in. I begin the day in my home office before anyone else is awake. After ninety minutes, book business, personal emails and news portals are out of the way. Most days I ride a bike, then after I cool off I write for ninety minutes before lunch. After lunch, I write for an hour or two, then take a nap (!). The biggest session is the three or more hours between post-naptime and dinner. I find I can be creative for about five hours a day. The rest of the time, I should do something else adjacent to writing (e.g. reading). If I’m editing or working on book marketing matters, I can work for a longer period.

Source: Juan Padrón design

Bibliography for On the Origins of the Virus

U.S. Suspends Risky Disease Research, Nature, Sarah Reardon (Oct 23, 2014).

Engineered Bat Virus Stirs Debate over Risky Research, Nature, Declan Butler (Nov 12, 2015).

Discovery of a Rich Gene Pool of Bat SARS-related Coronaviruses Provides New Insights into the Origin of SARS Coronavirus. Wuhan Institute of Virology, Hu, Zeng, et. al. PLOS Pathogens Journal (Nov 30, 2017)

Wuhan lab was performing coronavirus experiments on bats from the caves where the disease is believed to have originated—with a £3m grant from the U.S., Daily Mail (U.K.) (Apr 12, 2020).

‘Rogue’ Chinese Virologist Joins Twitter, Publishes “Smoking Gun” Evidence COVID-19 Created in Lab, Zero Hedge (Sept 15, 2020).

In Hunt for Virus Source, W.H.O. Let China Take Charge, New York Times, Selam Gebrekidan, Matt Apuzzo, Amy Qin and Javier C. Hernández (November 2, 2020).

Covid: Wuhan Scientist Would’ Welcome’ Visit Probing Lab Leak Theory,, John Sudworth (Dec 22, 2020).

We Can’t Discover the Pandemic’s Origins if China’s Thought Police Keep Watching Scientists, Washington Post Editorial (Jan 4, 2021).

WHO Team Blocked from Entering China to Study Origins of Coronavirus,, Helen Reagan (Jan 6, 2021).

The Lab Leak Hypothesis, New York Magazine, Nicholson Baker (Jan 4, 2021).


Original Bibliography on Covid-19’s Origins

Source: Franken-Covid part II, 2020 Oct 19 (Bradley West, A Nest of Vipers, v.2.0 accessed via sign-up to the Readers’ Group on

Adherence to and Compliance with Arms Control, Nonproliferation, and Disarmament Agreements and Commitments, U.S. State Department (August, 2019) pp. 45-46.

Furin cleavage site in the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus glycoprotein—Vincent Racaniello, Virology Blog (Feb 13, 2020)

 WHO and China: Dereliction of Duty, The Council of Foreign Relations (Feb 27, 2020)

State Department Cables Warned of Safety Issues at Wuhan Lab Studying Bat Coronaviruses, Washington Post (Apr 14, 2020)

Was there Covid-19 in France Last November? CGTN May 11, 2020)–QpD871eNhu/index.html

Why Would the U.S. Have Funded the Controversial Wuhan Lab? The Diplomat May 13, 2020).

The World Agreed to a Coronavirus Inquiry. Just When and How Though are Still in Dispute, The Conversation May 20, 2020)

The WHO Must Answer These Hard Questions in its Coronavirus Inquiry, The Conversation May 21, 2020)

Cremation Based Estimates Suggest Significant Under-and Delayed Reporting of Covid-19 Epidemic Data in Wuhan and China, medRxiv, May 28, 2020)

Engaging China on Bioweapons and Beyond, Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey May 28, 2020)

Yet Another Stunning Revelation about the True Origin of COVID-19, Wion News—Lawrence Sellin (Jun 6, 2020).

Coronavirus: Satellite Traffic Images May Suggest Virus Hit Wuhan Earlier, (Jun 9, 2020)

Where did Covid-19 Really Come From? BESA Center Perspectives—Lt. Colonel Dr. Dany Shoham, Paper No.1664  (Jul 28, 2020)

The Coronavirus Unveiled, The New York Times (Oct 9, 2020)